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Let us take a #selfie


As seniors graduate and walk across the stage next week to shake USF President Judy Genshaft’s hand, many will undoubtedly want to stop and appreciate the moment by taking a selfie with their phones.

But according to Dean for Students Michael Freeman, this is not proper etiquette for the ceremony as he requested all graduating seniors to refrain from taking selfies with Genshaft as their
formal graduation photo is taken.

Though it is certainly understandable how taking a selfie can make the already hours-long ceremony longer and could possibly deprive the formal photographer of business, USF is merely jumping on the bandwagon as other universities, such as Bryant University and the University of Florida, have also banned selfies to keep what Freeman intends to be a “serious academic ceremony.”

Commencement is a serious academic honor that declares one’s scholarly achievement as one receives a certificate of higher education, but as any student in debt or any proud mother will say, it’s a damn celebration – the kid is getting a job.

For many, graduating is finally leaving behind all the expensive tuition and textbooks and getting one step closer to getting a decent-paying job. For first generation students, they will become the first person in a family to ever receive a degree and symbolically represent a step out of a lower
socioeconomic class.

Graduation is still a place for students to make lighthearted, sentimental memories, which includes quickly taking these personal photos – after all, the university could give students some leeway after they each paid an average of over $25,000 in tuition and fees to attend the university. That price is multiplied for out-of-state and graduate students.

Taking selfies with others, though often judged as superficial, is a way to spontaneously capture a moment. If a student feels inclined to take one with the president of the university where so much time and effort was invested, then he should not be punished for wanting such an awaited moment captured in a fun way.

While others may be concerned with the length of the ceremony if graduates take selfies with Genshaft, graduation is ultimately not an event that should be rushed. With Freeman’s rules already suggesting a “simple handshake” with USF’s president is preferred, graduation conduct seems to be
outlined as an impersonal ceremony for graduates who are certainly
not faceless.

It is entirely possible to have a respectful ceremony while not making the celebration of a major milestone overly strict or uptight.

Instead of denying the popular trend, perhaps the university can embrace the selfie culture and make a tradition of it. USF has always been seeking new traditions, why not make one of selfies with Genshaft? Certainly this would be a tradition immediately accepted by students. If the university is smart, it will even create a hashtag to promote its own marketing on social media.

If U.S. President Barack Obama and the host of the Oscars, an undeniably serious and high-end event, can take selfies without receiving any kind of backlash or punishment, then surely a graduating Bull can take one with the most iconic woman at the university and still maintain
proper compartment.